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Well, actually in Europe many nations claim to be the the creators of this ancient basic dessert recipe.
In Italy tradition states that Pan di Spagna (Spanish Bread in English or Sponge Cake) derives from the creation of  a Genoese Chef who, during a journey in Spain in the late 1700, created this recipe to honour the country he was visiting. I don’t think this is true because this recipe has different names all over Europe…

Whatever the origin, the important thing is that this is the most used base for many desserts. It could be also be eaten on its own.
It’s simple, it’s good, it’s soft, it’s airy and it needs no yeast at all. It has also a low-calories value.
What are we waiting for? Here is the recipe.

Ingredients for 6-8 servings

  • 120 g (0,52 cups) (doppio zero) 00 flour/superfine flour/all-purpose flour
  • 120 g (0,52 cups) powdered sugar
  • 4 eggs (don’t separarate white and yolk!)
  • a pinch of salt
  • butter and flour for the cake pan

Instructions

1- Grease well the cake pan with butter and sprinkle the surface of the pan with some flour. Then turn the pan over and with gentle strokes remove the flour in excess. Remember that eventually you have to remove the Pan di Spagna from the pan, so grease and flour well!

2- Turn the oven on and pre-heat to 170° C or 350°F for about 10 minutes.

3- This cake doesn’t need yeast at all but it needs to incorporate a lot of air in order to leaven in oven. So put the eggs and the sugar in a large bowl and start to beat them very fast. If you use an electric beater, beat to medium/high speed for about 15 minutes or, if you do it with a handy beater it will takes about 30 minutes. You have to obtain a light and fluffy mixture. A little tip: stop beating the mixture only when, rising the beater and pouring the mixture, you can write an ‘8’!

4- Sieve the flour and pour a little at a time into the sugar and egg mixture. You have to gently  blend the flour with a spoon from the bottom to the top.

5- Pour gently the mixture into the bake pan with a palette knife and softly level the mixture off in the bake pan. Bake for about 25 minutes. Never open the oven while the Pan di Spagna is baking. You may test the cooking with a tooth stick. Put the stick in the middle of the cake and if the stick gets out dried the cake is ready. Pan di Spagna has to be golden, well fluffly, firm yet elastic to the touch.

6- Take the pan out from the oven and and let cool for about 5 minutes. Then you have to turn upside down the cake, and remove it from the pan. Put the cake on a baking rack and let it cool well.

Now that the Pan di Spagna is ready, you have many choices! You may deep freeze it and use it another day, or you may eat it plain -very yummy, you may decorate it with a topping like a fudge or icing sugar and you may fill with custard cream or a Chantilly. You may use marmalade or fruit as well, and so on. The only limit is your fantasy!
If you want to fill the Pan di Spagna with some stuffing you have first to divide it in 2 (or in 3 parts if you are able) thin layers with a serrated knife.  The you may use some sweet liqueur (Maraschino or Alchermes) or some sweet syrup to soften the 2 layers. Then fill one layer with a stuffing of your choice and cover with the second layer.

For instance, in the cake in photos I’ve used icing sugar as topping. For the lines I’ve cut several stripes of oven papers and used them as masks while sprinkling the icing sugar with a sieve.

Buon Appetito.

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